The Atlantic

The Curious History of Mommy-and-Me Fashion

This matching-outfit trend has cycled in and out of popularity for more than a century, reflecting changing views about motherhood and femininity.
Source: Kirn Vintage Stock / Corbis / Getty Images

“Every woman becomes like their mother,” Oscar Wilde once quipped. “That’s their tragedy.” For some women, “tragedy” strikes early in the form of mommy-and-me outfits, those often creepy-cute clothing clones that tend to leave at least one party looking age-inappropriate. In recent years, celebrity offspring like Blue Ivy Carter and North West have taken “twinning” with their famous moms to stratospheric levels of Instagram likes and paparazzi attention. But mother-daughter dressing has been cycling in and out of fashion for more than a hundred years, reflecting changing attitudes about motherhood and femininity.

The matchy-matchy look flourishes in “time periods when there is more cultural emphasis on the family and the mother-daughter relationship,” said the fashion historian Jennifer Farley Gordon, who researches children’s clothing. In practice, the matching style can also signal affluence: a mother with leisure time to sew—or

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